In this businessline podcast, Anjana PV talks to Sumit Kumar, Chief Business Officer, TeamLease Degree Apprenticeship, on the downtrend experienced in the campus placement scenario in our country. The podcast explores the evolving landscape of employment and placement opportunities in India, with a particular focus on the role of educational institutions and the need for adaptability in the face of industry changes.

The conversation begins by highlighting a notable development: the prestigious Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta (IIM Calcutta), is actively seeking support from its alumni network to aid in providing placement and internship opportunities for its students. Sumit stated that, though this might be perceived as a desperate move, it is a positive approach in addressing the challenges of the current job market.

The discussion points out that fresh hiring, particularly in the Information Technology (IT) sector, has witnessed a significant slowdown. Various IT companies and startups have temporarily halted their hiring plans due to prevailing uncertainties. The situation is concerning, especially for recent graduates seeking their first employment opportunities.

It also acknowledges the grim situation in the IT sector and sheds light on the brighter side. Sectors such as telecom, retail, logistics, and healthcare continue to hire actively. This indicates that the impact of the job market’s conditions is sector-specific, with some areas remaining relatively resilient.

The employment landscape is not uniform across all fields of study. Engineering and computer science-related disciplines appear to be more affected by the current job market conditions. However, other sectors, including telecom, manufacturing, and retail, are still actively seeking talent.

The podcast also details upon the issue of how the job market’s fluctuations are impacting salary packages. The impact on salaries depends on the specific skill sets and field of study. Specialised skills in areas such as green technologies and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) continue to command premium salaries. This highlights the importance of choosing educational paths that align with the evolving demands of the job market.

Sumit stresses the critical importance of both upskilling and embracing new technologies. Organisations need to incorporate artificial intelligence (AI), and individuals should proactively upgrade their skills to remain competitive and relevant. The consensus is that a lack of technological adaptability can hinder employment prospects.

The discussion delves into the connection between the quality of education and employability. It’s pointed out that learning gaps in the educational system have a direct impact on the employability of students. Reports, such as the Acer report in 2019, have highlighted these learning gaps, emphasising the need for improvement.

Sumit suggests a tripartite collaboration involving students, academia, and industry as a means to bridge the skill deficit in the country. This collaboration aims to create a sustainable talent supply chain. The podcast highlights the importance of industry-academia partnerships, which are evolving from simple guest lectures and industrial visits to more integrated programs that align with job market needs.

The podcast concludes on an optimistic note, underscoring the significance of maintaining a positive attitude towards learning and skill development, even when confronted with job market challenges. The experts emphasise the value of being open to opportunities like apprenticeships, which can be instrumental in building a diverse skill set.